I often play sports to escape some of the junk that goes on in my life.

But, whenever I tie the laces of my muddy cleats, old-school high-tops or worn-out spikes, I cannot help but believe that sports are the enemy of escape they constantly remind me of not only the junk but also of most other experiences that have shaped my life.
Although I’d like to take full credit for this comparison, I cannot. A close family friend of mine a skilled sportswriter at one point for the Los Angeles Times and at another for the Hartford Courant prepared the analogy and planned to present it at his son’s bar mitzvah.

My friend died of an unexpected heart attack four days before the bar mitzvah and was never able to share his thoughts with his son whom he loved so dearly. So today, in honor of Alan Greenberg, I’d like to share his, and my, thoughts with you.

There is no doubt that both sports and life consist of hard falls, heartbreaks and losses. When life pushes you down, though, there is no referee to pause the game, grant you time to regroup and reward you with possession. When an incredible bond suddenly breaks, there is no hope for next season as a second chance. When a loved one dies, there is no coach waiting on the sideline to comfort you and prepare you for an upcoming match. It’s up to you to pick yourself up and step forward.

Your friends are instrumental in this process. Teammates’ communication is the music of life. Their advice and criticism help you become a better player, and a simple high five or pat on the back during a game can keep you battling more comfortably for hours.
Yet when an injury or slump drains almost every ounce of positivity out of your bones, your teammates will be the first to restore health and confidence in your body and mind.
And when your game-day performance reflects this motivation, don’t let anything knock it down.

In soccer, an aggressive opponent can only drive you to work harder. An inability to capitalize offensively can only inspire you to focus more closely. In life, optimism and perseverance are two qualities unmatched by others.

In basketball, the 10-second rule forces you to cross half court, the five-second time limit obligates you to make an inbound pass, and the 24-second clock commands you to execute your offensive strategy. In life, you are the only source that can demand yourself to make decisions efficiently.

In track, there will always be runners who are faster and have more endurance than you.

You will spend miles trying with everything you have to catch them, but even before you cross the finish line, you will realize that you are not in fact competing against them. In life, you are merely fighting yourself.

The game doesn’t always have to be a fight, though. You can work hard and enjoy what you are doing at the same time. Any sport illustrates this kind of genuine happiness.
But joy cannot be attained by placing yourself at the top of your priority list. You may dismiss the aid of others, training alone night and day or watching tapes for hours on end by yourself.

Being a ball hog or basking in personal glory may bring you instant satisfaction but, in the end, the sacrifice you make for others is the most rewarding risk you can possibly take.

Make a splash. Practice pays off. Don’t stick to the game plan. Go for a Hail Mary. Step up to the plate. Life is not a field on which you can let others dominate. Above all, do not sit back and watch the game pass you by.

Kravitz is a member of the class of 2012.

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